Inner Feminine, Mother Wound and Martyrdom in Business

by Many Rees

Perhaps some, or none of these words, mean very much to you at all. Allow me to enlighten you.

The mother wound is often used to refer to the emotional pain experienced during childhood caused by an unhealthy or dysfunctional relationship with your mother or a mother figure. I tend to think of it in different terms. In my mind it is a war we rage against ourselves, against our own inner feminine or inner mother. A rejection of our own feminine energy because she has never been role modelled to us in a healthy or empowered way. In fact, she has usually been attacked by not only you but by other women as well.

Your inner feminine refers to the aspects of femininity that exist within you regardless of your gender. These include intuition, collaboration, empathy, creativity, the desire to nurture and compassion.

A martyrdom complex is the belief that you must sacrifice yourself, your time, and resources for others before tending to your own needs. It stems from a belief that you are not good enough unless you are always doing something for others. It can go unnoticed and is particularly unhelpful when it shows up along with a mother wound/rejection of your own femininity.

Do any of these feel familiar?

  1. You are always putting other people’s needs ahead of your own.
  2. You feel guilty or inadequate when you say “no” to someone.
  3. You are constantly taking on more than you can handle.
  4. You only feel valuable if you are serving others.
  5. You feel like you are responsible for everyone’s happiness.
  6. You find it difficult to ask for help or support from others.
  7. You constantly seek validation from others and worry that your work is not up to scratch.
  8. You feel that it is up to you to “fix” other people’s problems and you feel guilty when you can’t.
  9. You are neglecting your own self-care and well-being.
  10. You resent others for not appreciating your efforts or helping you in return.

If so, you are not alone. Both mother wound and martyrdom play out in the business and personal lives of so many women. They lead to distorted perceptions of self-worth and the belief that you are not enough.  

In Western culture, women are taught that our value is in serving others so we prioritise their needs over our own. Ever wondered why you feel so guilty about doing something for yourself when you become a mum? This is one of the reasons why. Our cultural norms encourage self-sacrifice which serves no-one. Not us and certainly not our children.

That feeling of being a servant to everyone else but you leads to feelings of burnout, overwork, and exhaustion. 

Your inner feminine needs to be understood, nurtured and loved for you to step away from these old beliefs and the unhelpful patterns they lead to.

The first step is acknowledging that your wounds exist and the effect they are having on your life. By identifying the root cause of the wound, you can understand how they are playing out and start to change and heal.

Secondly, it is vital that you start to take care of yourself. Taking care of you first creates the capacity within you to take care of others in a healthy and more equal way. Self-care goes beyond bubble baths, drinking herbal tea or resting. It involves prioritising your needs above others and doing things for yourself so often that it becomes a habit..

Thirdly, seek support. Break your old belief that you have to do it all alone. This is not true and not what your feminine wants. She loves collaboration and support. As scary as it may feel, reach out to other women. The support of other women is vital to your healing. You can also access support from a therapist or mentor or join a women’s group where non-judgemental sharing is welcomed. It’s much easier for your feminine to be balanced when she no longer feels isolated and knows that others have walked similar paths..

The mother wound and the martyrdom complex are unknowingly rooted within the day-to-day lives of many women. They affect the choices we make, our self-esteem, how we relate to ourselves and to others, particularly how we relate to other women.

You get to choose whether you want to break these patterns. It may not be easy but it is worth it. By accepting the existence of the wounds, prioritising yourself and seeking support, you can rewrite old stories and create new patterns that lead to success, fulfilment, flow and a whole heap of love for yourself. Surely it has to be worth trying.


By Women's Business Club

Women's Business Club empowers women to succeed in business through awards, conferences, business support membership, and news. Find out more at or send your press release [email protected]. Articles and adverts are chargeable, see media pack at

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